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US Dept of Energy warns on climate change damaging nuclear and coal plants

nuke-hotWarming already taking toll on U.S. energy sector — DOE Hannah Northey, E&E reporter Greenwire:  July 11, 2013  Rising temperatures, decreasing water availability, more severe storms and rising seas stemming from climate change are already affecting every part of the country’s energy sector, and those threats will only grow more severe in years to come, the Energy Department said today.

DOE in a new report outlines the effects a warming world with more chaotic and damaging nuke-&-seaLstorms, wildfires and other natural disasters is having on oil and gas exploration, power plants, and an aging electric grid.

The outlook isn’t pretty.

The agency pointed to the unprecedented shutdown of a nuclear reactor because of rising seawater temperatures on the Connecticut coast last year, as well as the request by power plants to dump hotter-than-permitted water into nearby lakes and streams.

In another case, high temperatures and high demand last year caused a transformer and power line to trip in Arizona, triggering a cascading blackout that tripped the San Onofre nuclear plant offline, leaving millions of people without power.

Wildfires are threatening large swaths of the electric grid, and waning water resources are calling wildfire-nukeinto question just how much hydropower the United States can generate.

What the report also makes clear is that storms like Superstorm Sandy are only a taste of things to come……..

Coming years could bring more damage, DOE said, noting that last year was the warmest year since record keeping began in 1895 for the contiguous United States, and the hottest month for the nation was July 2012. Those higher temperature have ushered in heat waves, a longer wildfire season, decreased sea ice in the Alaskan Arctic sea and a longer growing season, DOE said.

nuke-tapIn many cases, historic drought conditions are combining with high temperatures to parch power plants throughout the country that need water to cool reactors, generate steam or produce hydroelectricity.

Higher temperatures are also putting pressure on the system in the form of demand as an increasing number of air conditioners pull power from the grid, causing even more devastating consequences during rolling blackouts and brownouts.

The report calls for a host of new, innovative methods to protect the grid, power plants, and oil and gas producers from the effects of climate change but doesn’t make specific recommendations or provide cost estimates…..


July 15, 2013 - Posted by | climate change, USA

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